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When will the first commercial Hyperloop system begin operations?
In essence, a Hyperloop is a sealed tube or series of tubes with low air pressure through which a pod carrying passengers or cargo may travel substantially free of drag. The Hyperloop could potentially convey people or objects at airliner or supersonic speeds while being substantially more energy efficient than existing commercial airliners.
The Hyperloop Alpha concept was first published in August 2013, proposing and examining a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly following the Interstate 5 corridor. The Hyperloop genesis paper conceived of a Hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 km) route at a speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes, which is considerably faster than current rail or air travel times. Preliminary cost estimates for this LA–SF suggested route were included in the white paper—US$6 billion for a passenger-only version, and US$7.5 billion for a somewhat larger-diameter version transporting passengers and vehicles.
In the seven years since Hyperloop was proposed, a number of startup companies have outlined plans to design, build and commercialize Hyperloop technologies. Some of these companies, including Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, are building test tracks and pods, and a number of interesting possible routes have been theorised, but as of May 2020 there are no commercial Hyperloop tracks in operation.
This question asks: When will the first commercial Hyperloop system begin operation?
For the purposes of this question, a 'Hyperloop' is a transportation system designed for passenger or cargo transportation utilising a low-pressure tube or tunnel to reduce drag. Whether such a system is called a 'Hyperloop' or something else does not affect the resolution of this question.
A 'commercial Hyperloop system' is a full-scale transportation system that functions to transport passengers or cargo on a commercial basis, where paying customers may purchase tickets or access passes to use the service.
Additionally, the system must possess the key characteristic of the Hyperloop concept: average speed substantially in excess of high-speed rail. The average point-to-point speed of the pod must be at least 400 kilometers per hour to qualify, and the minimum point-to-point distance is 10 kilometers.
Amusement park rides or test tracks, paid or unpaid, do not count. Additionally, pneumatic tube systems that transport only very small objects like letters do not count.
This question resolves as the date on which the first paying customer using a qualifying Hyperloop system either completes their journey, or their cargo arrives at its destination.
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